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Ann Arbor: The Greatest Little City in the World

I haven’t been to every little city in the world.

I don’t want to go to every little city in the world.

And I’m sure a lot of people would disagree with my overreaching title.

But I don’t care. As far as the official opinion of this blog goes, Ann Arbor is the greatest little city in the world.

I grew up about 30 miles from Ann Arbor and when it came time to deciding where to study post-high school, the decision was easy. In the fall of 2004 I moved to Ann Arbor and spent the next 4.5 years exploring Ann Arbor as a student at the University of Michigan.

Flash forward to December 2012. It had been two years since I’d last stepped foot in Ann Arbor. Two years since I’d been in my home state at all. With a visit to Michigan on the itinerary for my two weeks at home I knew I’d have to somehow squeeze in a trip to A Squared.

Our trip got cut a little short because of a forecasted blizzard in Ohio (worst state ever) but I was still able to convince my sister Caitlyn to drive me to Ann Arbor (I’m no longer allowed to drive any of my family’s cars- for good reason) and spend the day running around to my favorite places with my friends. She’s a nice sister.

As soon as we pulled off M-14 onto Main Street I transformed into the most annoying person the planet, pointing out every little thing that had changed and every little thing that had stayed the same. Luckily for Caitlyn, we soon arrived at our first destination, Mighty Good Coffee. This place is relatively new and was suggested by my friend Danielle, an Ann Arbor native (and former teacher in Korea). After a year of really bad Americanos in Seoul, it was nice to step into a place that takes coffee seriously. Mighty Good Coffee roasts their own beans and they make their own syrups in house. I never order flavored lattes because they are always to sweet for me but I decided to try the brown sugar sea salt latte. And I’m glad I did. It was perfectly creamy, not to sweet, and you could still taste the coffee.

Brown sugar sea salt lattee at Mighty Good Coffee

After a couple hours of catching up it was unfortunately time to say goodbye. Danielle and her fiance Dan live in Australia and it gets harder and harder to say goodbye to good friends you don’t know when you’ll see again.

With some time to kill before meeting another friend, I forced my sister to walk around campus with me in nearly freezing temperatures. Our original plan was to get burritos at one of my favorite places, BTB, but it was closed, along with many other places, because of winter vacation.

Ulrich’s Book Store

A little disappointed, we walked across the Diag where I stopped every ten feet to take a photo and talk about stupid things I’d done in college. More than that though, I admired the beauty of campus that I’d often overlooked when I was rushing to class or coming home from the bar. The sun was almost set, the ground was lightly covered with snow, and there weren’t many people around. It was another point for greatest little city.

Grad Library and the Diag

For the final reunion of the night, Caitlyn and I met my friend Jen and her fiance Andrew (all my friends are engaged it seems) at one of my favorite bars, Ashley’s. Ashley’s has over 40 beers on tap and has been rated one of the top 100 beer bars in the country. I had lunch there on the my 21st birthday and it’s been a mainstay ever since.

For a couple hours we sipped on double IPAs and chatted about wedding plans, travel plans, life after college, and life in college. I hadn’t seen Jen or Andrew in over two years but it felt like no time had passed. Though, it did make me feel a tad guilty for being disconnected to life back in the States.

Eventually it was time to say goodbye.

To old friends.

To cheap, delicious beer.

To the greatest little city in the world.

As my sister drove north on US-23 I sat in the passenger seat and made a promise that it wouldn’t be two years before I saw Ann Arbor or my friends again.

What’s your favorite little city? Have you ever been to Ann Arbor?

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great post! But you forgot to write about Zingerman’s- even though I do have to admit it’s over-priced, ha. Just seeing this brought back good memories, and made me a little homesick. Go Blue!
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..My Local Eats – Seoul, KoreaMy Profile

    January 23, 2013
    • Amanda Slavinsky #

      Ah, Zingerman’s. I think they deserve a post of their own :) Maybe next time I’m in town! Go Blue!

      January 24, 2013
  2. Haha I feel the same way about my little college town, too. This makes me want to go visit it and eat from our famous little Freebirds Mexican food joint one more time before I head to Korea.
    Kaleena’s Kaleidoscope recently posted..The Pre-Korea Food Fest of 2013My Profile

    January 24, 2013
    • Amanda Slavinsky #

      I think everyone who went to college in a similar type of city feels that way! haha And, yes, eat up the Mexican before you leave!

      January 24, 2013
  3. We’ve heard several good things about Ann Arbor and will check it out the next time we visit the folks back in the Midwest. (Originally from Ohio. Wouldn’t call it the “worst” state. Have you been to rural Texas?)
    Lane recently posted..Great Southwest TraveloguesMy Profile

    January 25, 2013
    • Amanda Slavinsky #

      The worst state ever comment is actually a little bit of a thing from the Michigan-OSU rivalry :) I don’t hate the entire state, promise! And yes, you should swing by AA when you’re back in the US. You will not be disappointed!

      January 28, 2013
  4. Ann Arbor looks adorable and like a perfect city to study in! I always get nostalgic when I met old friends in the little city where I made my undergrad too… I had some of my best years living there and I’m always excited for a trip down memory lane :)
    Julika recently posted..Studying Abroad in Europe – Myths and RealityMy Profile

    January 26, 2013
    • Amanda Slavinsky #

      It really was the perfect city to study in…and have a lot of college fun ;) I really think everyone has a lot of fun memories and nostalgia related to their college town.

      January 28, 2013
  5. I miss Ann Arbor so much! I’ll be home for a week for Christmas and all I can think about is hanging out/eating in Ann Arbor. Jerusalem Garden, Zingerman’s, Ashley’s, Cafe Felix, Shalimar, Pizza House…I’m going to get so fat!

    October 23, 2013
    • Amanda Slavinsky #

      Ah, stop! All I want to do when I’m in Ann Arbor is eat. And drink. I have a HUGE chapati craving now…and the Bay Chowder at Ashley’s.

      October 24, 2013

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